Memory Cafe - what's the buzz?

Here's a review of my recent album that was published on

Steve Maddock just happens to be, as the promotional one-sheet states “... one of Canada's most versatile vocal talents,” and one listen to the music in “Memory Cafe,” is more than sufficient to affirm this statement. Maddock let's it all hang out here whether singing solo, with a small combo or a 20-piece big band, the vocalist provides a shining performance on what turns out to be a gem of an album. Involved in jazz music, his first love, for over two decades, Maddock has been a soloist for an array of groups from the Vancouver Chamber Choir, The Pacific Baroque Orchestra, The Dal Richards Jazz Orchestra, to credits in theatre and film.

Inspired by Joe Henderson's “Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn,” “Memory Cafe” is the vocalists second album following his self-titled debut of 2000 and what a breakout album it is.

Containing fifteen diverse songs, the repertoire includes such standards as the Dietz/Schwartz song “Alone Together,” Carl Fischer's “You've Changed,” to Johnny Mercer's immortal “Autumn Leaves” and James Taylor's pop tune “Secret O' Life.” However, the majority of the selections are original compositions contributed by Canadian songwriter and musician Craig Salkeld.

Being a Canadian production, Maddock naturally enlists some of the country's finest jazz musicians among them saxophonists Campbell Ryga and Ross Taggart, bassist Jodi Proznick, trumpeters Brad Turner and Kent Wallace as well as guitarist Bill Coon and drummer Craig Scott who contributes one of the finer numbers with “Flyin' To Florida.” Singer Bess Durey accompanies Maddock on the Salkeld original “Solo,” and then again on the classic standard “Alone Together” where both vocalists do a bit of scatting.

The highlights are too many to mention in depth but of the songs not to be missed, one needs to check out two of the big band burners on the disc which are “So He Lies,” and “How Did We End Up Like This,” where Maddock fronts an orchestra with stellar results. One heck of an arrangement to Taylor's “Secret O' Life” makes this song the signature tune of the album. Provided with a slight Brazilian slant, “I've Got A Secret For You” sounds like a smooth samba and is another winner of a number featuring Coon's delicate guitar riffs.

Some of the softer ballad pieces that Maddock caresses with a gentle touch are the title track, “This Is Gonna Be Some Fun,” and the beautiful “Somebody Pinch Me.” Gifted with soothing baritone vocals, Maddock at times sings and sounds a bit like the American jazz singer Alan Harris but still manages to strike a unique chord of his own. Kudos to Steve Maddock - for he has certainly produced one of the outstanding male jazz vocal albums of the year.

Ed Blanco -